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Brighton Mother Karena Cecil Arrested In Suspected DUI Crash That Killed 10-Year-Old Son

BRIGHTON, Colo. (CBS4) - Brighton police say Karena Cecil, 27, of Brighton, caused a single vehicle rollover crash which killed her 10-year-old son. Police originally reported the child was 11 years old.

Karena Cecil (Brighton PD) Cropped Version
Karena Cecil (credit: Brighton Police)

Brighton police rushed to the scene on Interstate 76 and Bromley Lane at around 7:20 p.m. on Saturday.

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Investigators say four people were inside the car traveling east when the driver lost control of the vehicle, drifted off the road and rolled in the median. The vehicle ended up in the westbound lanes.

Police say a man and another child were in the vehicle. They say the children were siblings, and both were Cecil's children. The man and second child suffered minor injuries.

The 27J School District sent a letter to parents and families identifying the child as Gavin Cecil. He was in 3rd grade at Southeast Elementary School.

The letter reads in part:

"This loss is sure to raise many emotions, concerns, and questions from our school community, especially from some of our students. Members of the school's counseling team as well as the District's crisis response team, which is made up of professionals trained to help with the needs of students, parents, and school personnel, will be present at Southeast Elementary along with our therapy dog Apollo on Tuesday from 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. to provide support, comfort, and reassurance to students, families and staff who need support. Arrangements can also be made for support outside of these times if needed."

Investigators believe speed and alcohol were factors in the crash. Cecil now faces charges including vehicular homicide, careless driving causing injury, two counts of child abuse, revoked driving status, DUI and no proof of insurance.

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Cecil's lengthy arrest record dates back to January of 2015. She's faced multiple charges since then including DUI, habitual traffic offender-driving after revocation and driving without insurance. More serious charges stemmed from the Lochbuie Police Department in October of 2017 which included vehicular eluding, second degree kidnapping and DUI "with excessive alcohol."

In that 2017 case out of Lochbuie, Cecil pleaded guilty to DUI and vehicular eluding, but charges of child abuse and second degree kidnapping were dropped. She also pleaded guilty to another DUI in May of 2019.

Fran Lanzer with Mothers Against Drunk Driving Colorado called the incident "heartbreaking." He said the organization has worked for years to try and get legislation passed to make a repeat DUI offense a felony. So far, those efforts have been unsuccessful.

"We've got to do more, and we're going to work to do more because this is a 100% preventable loss of life and it's something that we want to end," Lanzer said.

Anyone with information about this crash is asked to contact the Brighton Police Department at (303) 288-1535.

If you are a victim or survivor of an impairment-related crash, MADD Colorado offers support at no charge. You can reach the 24/7 hotline at 877-MADD-HELP.

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